I remember well, my years spent at the Snohomish Soccer Fields. Both of my kids played and their staggered practice times not only cut into our family dinnertime, but bulldozed right over them. Even the weekends were affected since my son’s games were on Saturdays and daughter’s on Sundays.
Eventually, I realized, “This isn’t working!” Sometimes it takes a while to catch up to the reality of our circumstances.
My friend had an ah-ha like this too, she realized that treating her toddlers to fast food had become a habit.
Her mentor asked, “How many meals do your kids eat in the car staring at the back of your head?” Ouch!
We all wake up in moments like this to realize we’ve somehow slipped from our priorities; the casual exception has unintentionally become the rule. This is the learning curve of life when we get an opportunity to do a little realigning.
Is it worth the effort to gather everyone around the table?
We know that families are positively influenced by the time shared conversing and relaxing over a meal. Research proves what we intuitively know; kids become better conversationalists, have a higher vocabulary, get better grades, and have higher self-esteem in families who share regular dinners together. They tend to eat more fruits and vegetables and have a lower incidence of obesity. They’re also less likely to abuse drugs, alcohol, experience eating disorders, and teen pregnancy.
Wow! Of course, there are no guarantees, but, we have an opportunity to help our kids in multiple ways simply by spending time with them around a meal. Our priorities here will have a positive effect now and in their future.
How often do you want to have family meals?
To experience the above benefits, you don’t have to gather around the table every single night; positive outcomes occur in families who spend 3 or more meals together a week.
For me, I did a complete overhaul.
I had my mini-van turned into a portable kitchen, no kidding! I even had a microwave in there. My ‘drive-thru’ friend simply cut back her times going to fast food and sat her little ones down at the table. Your situation and solution might be somewhere in between.
What do your family meals look like? What do you want them to be? Every challenging situation makes room for an ingenious solution. What will yours be?
It’s never too late for a little course correction.
Because moments matter,
Stephanie Allen is Co-founder and President of Dream Dinners and a New York Times best-selling co-author of The Hour that Matters Most. Naturally a visionary and optimist, Stephanie hopes to inspire America through her nurturing voice of encouragement, assuring families… “You’re doing a great job!”